Die ‚kleinen Nazis‘ und die großen Diplomaten

Die Integration von ehemaligen Nationalsozialisten im Ministerium für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik

  • Jonathan Kaplan Freie Universität Berlin

Abstract

Numerous publications on the Nazi past of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany have led to political and historiographical discussions on efforts to come to terms with the Nazi past in other German ministries and authorities. This article focusses on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and on the biographies of GDR diplomats who had been politically active in the ‘Third Reich’. In contrast to the ‘Nazi diplomats’ in the West German Foreign Office, who had actively participated in war crimes and were responsible for executing the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question’, the East German diplomats can rather be described as ‘little Nazis’. They had largely been ‘hangers-on’ of the Nazi regime, meaning ‘just’ nominal NSDAP members or Wehrmacht soldiers. The biographical discussion focusses both on their activities during National Socialism and on the political developments of the postwar period. These developments allowed these individuals to pursue diplomatic careers in the socialist German state. Each biography tells of a personal reckoning with the past as well as of a national reckoning within the GDR regime, which had to integrate the ‘little Nazis’ into the new political system. Through the analysis of memoirs, investigations by the state security service, and other archival materials, the article demonstrates how former ‘Nazis’ explained their pasts and how they became loyal socialists.

Published
2020-11-30